What is the Interest Quotient?

While the number of high school graduates has been increasing each year, the number of college campuses around the country has stayed almost constant. This has created a deluge of college admission applications to colleges nationwide. Today students are applying to an increasing number of colleges to increase their odds of being admitted to a college of their choice.

With colleges receiving so many admissions applications (some in the tens of thousands!), they are continually seeking out ways to identify students who would be good candidates to include in their student body. There is growing pressure for colleges, especially the more selective ones, to admit applicants who are likely to enroll. Why? Because one statistic that is tracked, tallied and reported is the Yield Percentage of admitted applicants.

This number represents the percentage of admitted students who actually enroll at the college. The current perception is that a college with a higher Yield Percentage (where a high percentage of the students who are admitted decide to attend that college) represents a more selective and sought-after college which, theoretically, will attract better students to apply. Higher yields make it easier for the college to guess how many students they need to admit to arrive at the desired number of freshman students. An accurate estimate can also save the college money.

More and more colleges are tracking correspondence and campus visits to determine which applicants are showing the most interest in their school. We refer to this as the Interest Quotient. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, more than half of colleges consider demonstrated interest a factor in admissions. Most colleges use it as a marginal criterion, but it scored higher than SAT II tests or race or ethnicity in importance.

Bev Taylor of Ivy Coach, who has been an independent college admissions consultant for over fifteen years in Long Island, New York and has successfully helped many students get admitted to their top college choices, strongly believes that the Interest Quotient in some cases can be the tipping point to a student getting admitted to a college.

So what should your student be doing to show interest in a college? The key is to show interest without going overboard and becoming an annoyance. We recommend students visit the campus of the colleges they are interested in attending, if at all possible. During the visit, students should try to connect with someone from the Admissions Office with whom they can stay in contact.

Students should also try to attend College Fairs where representatives of their choice colleges will be in attendance. In addition, students should call and e-mail Admissions with pertinent questions about things like programs offered, activities, culture of the campus, demographics of the student body, etc.

The content of a studentÿýs admissions essay can also make a difference. Weaving in some verbiage to the essay about how and why a particular college is a top choice for a student can catch the attention of an admissions officer. Students should communicate both directly and indirectly to the Admissions Office that they are very interested in attending that college.

Colleges insist, however, the Interest Quotient can’t replace a substandard record. Nor, most say, will its absence cause an otherwise strong applicant to be rejected. The bottom line is to make sure your student is applying to colleges to which they are academically well matched. Only then should you use the Interest Quotient to try to capture that extra edge to help your student rise above the rest of the crowd.

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